Biscotti two ways

My holiday baking started a bit earlier than usual this year because our first family Christmas party is on the 22nd, so the cookies will have to last through 4 family Christmas parties over a 4 day stretch.

After work today I made 2 kinds of biscotti. Biscotti are great for extended holiday schedules because they stay fresh for so long. One is my Mom’s recipe which we all love, the other is an oldie but goodie from the Smitten Kitchen blog (in blog years, 2008 is an oldie!) which was actually taken from a 1993 N.Y. Times recipe. [1993 was an awesome year, my HS graduation and the height of grunge. As I write this I’m still wearing a flannel shirt – grunge is back!]

By the way, Chris loves to eat the biscotti ends after the first round of baking. He likes when they are still a little soft – but only the ends are really cooked through by that point. He asked if I could find a way to get them to cook through and still be soft. I think that using the dough to make drop cookies and cooking them for less time (8-10 minutes?) might work. I’ll have to test that out one day.

biscottichochazelnut

Chocolate hazelnut biscotti – I love the way the egg wash makes the top shine

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti
adapted from Smitten Kitchen  – her photos and tips are always excellent, especially the warning that this is the stickiest dough ever! My changes and notes are in bold. Note: this is a traditional crunchy biscotti recipe, good for dunking!

Total time: 1 hour    Makes about 60 40 biscotti

1 cup whole chopped hazelnuts, preferably blanched
2 1/2 cups flour, plus flour for work surface
1/2 cup Dutch-style cocoa powder
1 tablespoon espresso powder [I used instant espresso]
Pinch of salt [1/8 tsp]
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread hazelnuts [on baking sheet lined with parchment] and toast about 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned. Set toasted nuts aside.

2. In medium bowl add flour, cocoa, espresso powder, salt, baking soda, baking powder together and whisk to blend [simpler than sifting]. Set aside.

3. Beat eggs lightly, just until blended, in mixing bowl with whisk or in electric mixer. Remove two tablespoons of egg mixture to small dish and set aside. Beat sugar into remaining eggs until blended. Stir in flour mixture to form soft dough, then mix in hazelnuts [I used my mixer for all of this, including mixing in the hazelnuts; super easy!].

4. Divide the dough in half and place one portion on a well-floured work surface. (She is not kidding about this.) With floured hands, pat it into a six-inch square. Scatter half the hazelnuts on the dough and press them into the surface. Roll the dough into a cylinder about 2 inches in diameter and 12 to 15 inches long. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper and place the roll of dough on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Brush the tops of both rolls with the reserved egg.

5. Place in the oven [still at 350 F] and bake about 15 20-25 minutes, until firm to the touch. Allow the loaves to cool on a rack for 10 minutes but keep the oven on. Transfer to a cutting board and cut on an angle into slices one-half-inch thick [I can’t do that, I did about 3/4″].  Return the slices to the baking sheet, laying them on their cut sides, and return them to the oven. Bake another 20 minutes [flipping them over half-way through the baking] until they are crisp and dry. Allow to cool completely before storing or serving. Store for up to 1 week in an airtight container.

biscotticranberry

Cranberry walnut white chocolate biscotti – almond extract and pomegranate juice really add to the flavor… they smell so good!

Mom’s cranberry walnut biscotti are so delicious. They are just a tiny bit moister that traditional biscotti, but still crunchy. Almond extract and pomegranate juice also lend great flavor (and scent). I made just two changes to Mom’s recipe, I replaced cherry juice with pomegranate juice (because we always have that in the house), and I replaced the semi-sweet chocolate chips with white chocolate – I had to make something without semi-sweet chocolate – I must be the only baker that hates the smell of chocolate chips baking.

Cranberry Walnut White Chocolate Biscotti
Total time: 1 hour     Makes 2 dozen (when cut in 3/4″ish slices from a 6″ wide loaf – next time I will make the loaves only about 3″ wide so that I can get more biscotti)

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts [next time I think I’ll use pistachios to add some more color]
1/2 cup white chocolate chips [Mom uses semi-sweet]
2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt (a pinch)
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup cherry pomegranate juice
3 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix flour, sugar, cranberries, walnuts, chocolate chips, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

2. In a smaller bowl, mix oil, extracts, juice, and eggs. Whisk until blended. Add wet to dry mixture and stir well until blended (no mixer needed, a spatula will work very well).

4. Turn dough out on to floured surface and knead just until smooth. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a 6″ wide rectangle. Place on parchment and flatten to 1″ thickness.

5. Bake for 30 minutes, then cool for 10 minutes on wire rack.

6. Slice in 1/2 to 3/4″ slices (on the diagonal) and place slices cut side down on parchment to bake for another 20 minutes, flipping the biscotti over half-way through the baking time. Cookies will be a bit softer than traditional biscotti when finished baking but will harden when cool. Allow them to cool completely before serving.

 

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Turkey Roulade

roulade

A sample packed up for my expert recipe taste-tester (Mom) 🙂

 

I loved this recipe. I made a number of changes to an Emeril Lagasse roulade recipe. It came out great! I found that if the stuffing is a little dry before preparing the roulade that’s just fine since the moisture from the spinach and mushrooms makes it perfectly moist after cooking. Chris thought that the outside could do with some kind of rub or breadcrumb coating to keep it soft. I’m not sure what I’ll try on the outside next time, probably a chopped fresh herb and butter coating. I’m going to double this if I make it for our Christmas Eve dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1 boneless turkey breast half, about 2-3 pounds
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 3-4 oz fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 batch of Pepperidge Farm herb stuffing (1/2 of 14 oz bag, prepared)

Directions:

  1. Make stuffing according to package directions on stove top and allow to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Place turkey breast on cutting board and make a butterfly cut. Pound to an even thickness of 1/2-inch.
  4. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tsp olive oil over medium-high heat and saute the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring, until caramelized around the edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the spinach, and cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted and any juices have evaporated from the pan, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat until it is cool enough to handle.
  5. Lay the turkey breast flat on a clean work surface. Season the skin side of the turkey with salt and pepper. Arrange stuffing over the turkey to reach within 1/2-inch from all edges, then top with spinach mushroom mixture. Carefully roll up the breast. Using twine, tie the roll at even intervals so that it remains tightly rolled. Rub the outside of the roulade with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and transfer to a rack inside of a shallow baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  6. Roast until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the very center of the roulade registers 150 to 155 degrees F, about 1 1/4 hours. Set aside to rest for 15 minutes then slice into 1/2-inch slices and serve.

Turkey Day

I have developed a habit of not posting my recipes until a month after I have made them, but it’s been so busy lately that I just can’t get a chance to work on it. Good thing this blog is just my virtual notebook and not my profession!

We delivered thanksgiving dinner to my grandparents’ apartment so I brined it to make sure that they turkey would be nice and moist since I had to pack and deliver it after cooking, and was afraid it would dry out (or fall on the floor). I used the Fire & Flavor brand brining kit, herb flavor. It was easy to use, and then I rinsed it all off after 13 hours of brining time. I ordered a fresh 13 lb turkey from Fresh Direct, and it was excellent.

In order to really keep the white meat juicy I roasted the turkey upside-down, well, breast side down anyway. I found the tip on simply recipes (see Mom’s Roast Turkey Recipe), and it was excellent advice! You won’t get a brown and crispy top but the breast meat is perfect and the skin over the dark meat is golden and crispy, so there is enough skin for those that like it.

My recipe:

  • 13 lb turkey, cleaned and brined
  • 1 stick butter, melted and cooled
  • salt and pepper
  • chicken stock, 1-2 cups
  • 2 yellow onions, peeled and quartered
  • 3 stalks celery, including leaves
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • fresh rosemary (4 sprigs)
  • fresh thyme (4 sprigs)

Directions:

  1. Wash brine off of turkey and place turkey on roasting rack. Allow it come to room temperature for an hour. Keep neck aside and place in bottom of roasting pan.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  3. Place carrots, celery and 1 quartered onion and 1-2 cups of stock in bottom of pan (this will build a great base for gravy).
  4. Truss turkey , stuff with thyme, lemon and 1 quartered onion.
  5. Coat turkey in butter and season with salt and pepper.  Tuck rosemary sprigs between leg and breast and wing and breast. Place turkey breast side down on roasting rack.
  6. Put turkey in oven on lowest shelf, cook for 30 minutes.
  7. Lower oven to 325 F and roast for 2 hrs more.
  8. Take turkey out and flip it over so that the breast is facing up, and roast for 45 minutes more, or until breast reaches 160 F and thigh reaches 170.
  9. Remove from oven and cover loosely with foil. Allow it to rest for 15-30 minutes before carving. While resting, use drippings to make gravy.

If you haven’t seen it, this carving video (Ray Venezia from Fairway Market, also available on the NYTimes.com website) was excellent. I was able to carve the turkey perfectly after watching the video the night before, it was so clear and easy to follow! There was enough to serve 10 people, and it was great! Wish I had taken a photo of the platter that I put on the table, it looked so good! We had a great time, too much fun to worry about documenting it! I did get one photo of the before shot (I forgot to mention that I sprinkled a little paprika on top too).

turkeybefore

I also made mashed potatoes (5 lbs yukon gold potatoes, boiled, 1.5 sticks butter, 8 oz sour cream, salt, pepper) – not health food, but so good – with or without gravy.